I ran into the worst clients and most awful couple ever the other day.
I was taking advantage of a lovely afternoon and spent a few hours on the patio of one of my favorite swanky hotels. My only table companions were a cigar, an open bottle of champagne, and Todd Kliman’s new book The Wild Vine. Sam and Toni breezed by me on the way to their own table on the opposite side of the courtyard. My first thoughts of gratitude for having gone unnoticed were soon eclipsed by dread when I saw them waving at me and beckoning me to come join them.
I knew I should have just ignored them, but I try to be civil even with people this obnoxious when they used to be clients. There was mindless chitchat that lasted about two excruciatingly long minutes. There was a request for me to check my schedule for availability to do a dinner party for them. There was general obfuscating on my part. Just after we were said our perfunctory and worthless goodbyes but before I had actually turned my body to walk away, Sam said “Say Refugee, Toni has allergy problems, you mind putting out your cigar.”
It was all statement, there was no trace of request or favor, and it was said through that smug and entitled smile.
I had no pithy comeback, no well timed soliloquy on their pernicious sense of privilege, I just stood for a pregnant moment, returned the entitled smile and said “Absofuckinglutely I would mind, have a good day.”
Artie Shaw would be celebrating his 100th birthday today. He was a brilliant player of several reed instruments, a prolific composer and big band leader, and by just about every historical account, a really stand-up guy. He also happened to be the first musician to put a black singer, Billie Holiday, in front of a white band… and toured the South no less.
His most famous recording is Begin the Beguine and is considered by anyone worth their dancing shoes to be among the greatest big band songs ever. Go ahead and listen… I dare ya not to bop your head.